Teachers LOVE using storage containers to keep their classrooms organized. They are a total game changer! Check out this blog post with simple and cheap storage solutions here.
As a teacher, you know that not having the right containers makes it hard to properly store and access materials.  For example, when things are stored in containers that are not transparent or labeled, it causes disorganization and may result in wasted time (looking for things) and money (rebuying things you can’t find).  We often buy storage containers without considering what we will put in them.  How can we be more purposeful and effective with our use of storage containers in our classroom?  Read below to learn how!

This blog post will…

  • share some tips, ideas and strategies for selecting and creating storage containers that will help you get organized
  • offer storage solutions that are mostly free or really cheap

Before we begin:


Free Storage Solutions

  • I do love Target at any time of year, but the back to school section has a special place in my heart.  While I glare at it with bitter eyes in early July because it is way too soon to be thinking about going back, my excitement increases as the summer progresses.  In addition to those perfectly pointy Crayolas and gorgeous speckled composition books there lies hidden treasures.  Boxes!  Not just any boxes...sturdy, colorful boxes that are designed to house notebooks and other related supplies.  They are also perfect for organizing your classroom (especially the shelves).  And they are FREE!  I simply condense the straggling folders and notebooks into one box and ask really sweetly for the (now) empty ones.  Put a label over the writing and you have some awesome new storage tools.

Upcycling Storage Solutions

  • The three containers that I "upcycled" above include {left to right}: a Stonyfield Yogurt Container covered with black duct tape and blue wash tape, a Pringles can covered with wrapping paper and a bread crumbs container decorated with scrapbook paper.
  • Crystal Lite containers are perfect for holding smaller items. They are sturdy and have a lid. The label peels off extremely easily and you are then left with a clear container. 
  • Pringles cans are tall and also come with a lid which is great for games or holding things inside.
  • Baby wipes and antibacterial wipes both come in a variety of different containers made of hard plastics. They can often be stacked and are good options for housing a variety of small manipulatives or art supplies.
  • All of the above can be “upcycled” by spray painting, Modge Podging, covering in decorative paper or even just decorating them with duct tape or Washi tape to match your classroom. I’ve always had great luck obtaining lots of them simply by putting the word out to students’ families and colleagues.
  • Copy paper boxes are a great choice because they are easy to obtain, are sturdy, and are congruent which makes them easy to stack. The downside is that in their natural state they are ugly and can add visual clutter to your classroom. A simple solution is to cover them in contact paper or fabric to make them not only uniform, but also allow them to match your classroom decor.
  • Plastic shoe boxes are commonly found in classrooms. They are a great choice, but a cheaper alternative would be the food storage containers that are marketed as disposable. They typically come in packs of 4-6 and work great in the classroom. Spray painting the covers and adding labels dresses them up nicely and creates a custom look.
  • Don't you just love the look of the spray painted cans below? Just be careful to select cans that don't have sharp edges at the top.

Cheap Storage Solutions

  • Ziploc Bags are outstanding for containerizing within a container. I love them because they come in so many sizes and you can add labels or write directly on the bag.
  • The Dollar Store and the Dollar Spot at Target offer so many different containers. It’s easy to find something that will be perfect for the space you are working with. Be cautious about mixing and matching too many sizes and colors. Using containers that are the same size, shape and color will present a much more organized appearance.
  • Be sure to “think outside the box” when it comes to storage. I have a collection of small trash cans that I bought for only $1.00 each that are perfect for storing my pattern blocks, multilink cubes, and other math manipulatives that kids grab by the handful to use. They fit perfectly onto one of my storage shelves and the open top works well in this situation.

Investment Storage Solutions

  • Although a bit pricier, my favorite way to store classroom items is in plastic drawers. They provide vertical storage and are easy to move around as needed. I’m especially fond of the drawers that slide out all the way. They are really worth the initial investment.
  • For larger items such as seasonal items and thematic units, you may wish to consider the bigger bins and tubs. Rubbermaid makes a neat option that opens in the front as well as the top so the contents are easy to access even when they are stacked.


Teachers LOVE using storage containers to keep their classrooms organized. They are a total game changer! Check out this blog post with simple and cheap storage solutions here.

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